Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS5497151 A
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 08/243,568
Publication dateMar 5, 1996
Filing dateMay 16, 1994
Priority dateOct 24, 1991
Fee statusLapsed
Also published asUS5329278
Publication number08243568, 243568, US 5497151 A, US 5497151A, US-A-5497151, US5497151 A, US5497151A
InventorsMichael L. Dombroski
Original AssigneeDombroski; Michael L.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Compact one-handed typing keyboard having keys corresponding to a standard two-handed keyboard
US 5497151 A
Abstract
A compact keyboard has a plurality of pairs of individually movable side by side keys, each pair of which is on opposite sides of a vertical plane lying between such keys. All of the keys are operable by the fingers of one hand of a person and the keys of the compact keyboard correspond in number to the number of keys of a conventional QWERTY keyboard. The keys of the compact keyboard operable by the fingers of a person's left hand alternate with the keys operable by the person's right hand.
Images(2)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(11)
What I claim is:
1. A compact keyboard comprising a plurality of individually movable keys arranged in a plurality of parallel, spaced apart rows and a plurality of parallel, spaced apart columns, all of said keys of said compact keyboard being operable by the fingers of one hand of a person, and the keys of said compact keyboard corresponding in number to a complement of a corresponding number of keys of a prior art keyboard having a first plurality of keys operable by the fingers of a persons's left hand and a second plurality of keys operable by the fingers of such person's right hand, each of said columns of keys having a left hand key and an adjacent right hand key, the left hand keys of each column of keys corresponding to those keys of the prior art keyboard operable by the fingers of the left hand of a person and the right hand keys of each column of keys of said compact keyboard corresponding to those keys of the prior art keyboard operable by the fingers of the right hand of a person.
2. A compact keyboard according to claim 1 wherein the prior art keyboard comprises a QWERTY keyboard.
3. A compact keyboard comprising a plurality of individually operable alphabetic and numeric keys of a conventional QWERTY keyboard and arranged in a plurality of rows and columns, the keys of said compact keyboard corresponding in number to a complement of a corresponding number of keys keys of said QWERTY keyboard operable by the fingers of a person's left hand and operable by the fingers of the person's right hand, the keys in each row of said compact keyboard corresponding to the keys of said QWERTY keyboard operable by the fingers of the person's left hand alternating with the keys in such row corresponding to the keys of said QWERTY keyboard operable by the fingers of such person's right hand.
4. A compact one-handed typing keyboard for use in lieu of a standard two-handed typing keyboard having a first plurality of keys arranged in columns and rows with a first predetermined sequence of characters and normally operable by one hand of a person and a second plurality of keys arranged in columns and rows with a second predetermined sequence of characters and normally operable by the other hand of said person, said compact one-handed keyboard comprising:
a) a first group of independently operable keys corresponding to the first plurality of keys of said standard keyboard and arranged in parallel, spaced apart columns and rows, adjacent columns being spaced apart greater than the spacing between adjacent rows; and
b) a second group of independently operable keys corresponding to the second plurality of keys of said standard keyboard and arranged in parallel, spaced apart columns and rows,
c) the rows of said first and second groups of keys being uniformly spaced apart,
d) the keys of each column of the second group of keys being positioned in the space between adjacent columns of the first group of keys and alternating therewith.
5. A compact keyboard according to claim 4 having at least four columns of said first group of keys and four columns of said second set of keys.
6. A compact keyboard according to claim 5 having at least four rows of said first and second groups of keys.
7. A compact keyboard according to claim 4 wherein the keys of each of said groups of keys include numeric keys.
8. A compact keyboard according to claim 4 wherein the keys of each of said groups of keys include alphabetic keys.
9. A compact keyboard according to claim 4 wherein the keys of each of said groups of keys include numeric keys and alphabetic keys.
10. A compact keyboard according to claim 9 wherein said numeric and alphabetic keys correspond in number to the numeric keys and alphabetic keys of a prior art QWERTY keyboard.
11. The compact keyboard according to claim 4 wherein the spacing between keys in adjacent columns enables one finger of a person to bridge two keys of two adjacent columns of keys in a single one of said rows.
Description

This application is a division of U.S. Ser. No. 07/782,064, filed Oct. 24, 1991, U.S. Pat. No. 5,329,278

TECHNICAL FIELD

The invention relates to an electronic keyboard having a plurality of independently operable keys operable by one hand of a person and more particularly to a one-handed keyboard having keys corresponding to the number of keys of a standard two-handed keyboard.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Standard electronic keyboards for computers are operated by both hands. These keyboards are too large and cumbersome for use with miniaturized hand held computers and computer terminals. Small keyboards have been developed for use with hand held computers and computer terminals. Many of these keyboards are designed to be operated by the index finger of one hand. Operation by one finger is relatively slow. The large number of keys to be operated by one finger generally requires visual observation of the keyboard in order to direct the finger to the proper keys.

Keyboards designed to be operated by the thumb and four fingers of one hand have been designed to provide increased speed and to allow manipulation of the keys without visual reference to the keyboard. These keyboards are only marginally successful. It can be difficult to locate and press one key at a time. Rocker type switches, which have been used to assist the finger in locating the keys, move sideways as well as vertically. The movement to the side and the relatively short vertical movement provide poor tactile response to the fingers and slows operation.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A compact keyboard constructed in accordance with the invention has a first group of individually operable keys corresponding to those keys of a standard keyboard operable by the left hand of a person and a second group of individually operable keys corresponding to those keys of a standard keyboard operable by the right hand of such person. The two groups of keys of the compact keyboard are arranged in parallel, spaced apart columns and rows. The spacing between adjacent rows is uniform, but the spacing between adjacent columns of the first group of keys is sufficient to enable the keys of the second group of keys to alternate with the keys of the first group. In this arrangement one finger of a person's hand may operate any key of any two adjacent columns, the keys at the left side of the columns corresponding to the keys of a standard keyboard operable by a person's left hand and the keys at the right side of the columns corresponding to the keys of a standard keyboard operable by the person's right hand.

The features and advantages of the invention will become apparent in light of the following detailed description of an exemplary embodiment thereof, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

FIG. 1 is a full scale top view of a complete, compact keyboard incorporating twenty pairs of the side by side keys arranged in columns and rows;

FIG. 2 is a side elevation of the complete keyboard taken along line 2--2 in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged end view of one pair of side by side keys with parts broken away taken along line 3--3 in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a bottom view of a pair of keys and pivot pins taken along line 4--4 in FIG. 3; and

FIG. 5 is an end view similar to FIG. 2 with one key depressed;

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

A portion of a compact computer keyboard 10, with a plurality of first or left hand keys 12 and a plurality of second or right hand keys 14, is shown in FIG. 1. The first and second keys 12 and 14 of each pair are positioned side by side so that they can be bridged and operated by one finger with minimal lateral finger movement. The first and second keys are supported on a mounting frame including a face plate 16 having an opening through which the keys project.

The face plate 16 is attached to a face board 18 (FIG. 3). The face plate 16 and the face board 18 together form a mounting plate 20, a portion of which is shown in FIG. 2. The face plate 16 and the face board 18 could be one part rather than multiple parts if desired. A first pivot pin 22 is mounted in a recess in the face board 18. A second pivot pin 24 is also mounted in a recess in the face board 18. The first and second pivot pins 22 and 24 have parallel spaced apart axes 26 and 28 (FIG. 4). Both the first and the second pivot pins 22 and 24 are positioned adjacent to the face plate 16 to position the first and second pivot pin axes 26 and 28 as high as possible.

Each first key 12 includes a body portion 30 and a key face surface 32 (FIG. 3). The body portion 30 is pivotally attached to the first pivot pin 22 by arm members 34 (FIG. 4) which extend laterally to one side of the key face surface 32. Each second key 14 includes a body portion 36 and a key face surface 38. The body portion 36 is pivotally attached to the second pivot pin 24 by arm members 40 which extend laterally to one side of the key face surface 38. The arm members 34 are integral parts of the body portion 30 and extend under the key face surface 38 of the companion second key 14. The arm members 40 are integral parts of the body portion 36 and extend under the key face surface 32 of the companion first key 12. The arm members are maintained in position on the respective pins 22 and 24 by spacers 23 and 25 (FIG. 4).

The first pivot pin 22 passes through an aperture 42 in the second key 14 as shown in FIGS. 3 and 5 of the drawing. The second pivot pin 24 passes through an aperture 44 in the first key 12. The first and second pivot pins 22 and 24 in this location cooperate with the apertures 42 and 44 to act as stops and limit movement of the first and second keys 12 and 14 about the axes 26 and 28.

It is not essential, of course, that the pins 22 and 24 extend through all of the respective keys. Each key may be mounted for rotation about an individual axis, if desired, by any conventional, suitable pivot means.

The axes 26 and 28 of the first and second pivot pins 22 and 24 are spaced apart and located on opposite sides of a vertical plane P (FIG. 3) lying between the adjacent pair of keys 12 and 14. The axis 22 of the first key 12 underlies the second key 14 and the axis 24 of the second key 14 underlies the first key 12. This arrangement enables the keys to move vertically as much as possible and laterally as little as possible. The placement of the axes 26 and 28 of the first and second pivot pins 22 and 24 close to the face plate 16 also reduces lateral movement of the key face surfaces 32 and 38. However, if the first and second pivot pin axes 26 and 28 are spaced apart more than twice the width of each key face surface 32 and 38, the first and second pivot pins 22 and 24 will not cooperate with the apertures 42 and 44 to act as stops for the keys 12 and 14, and the first and second pivot pins 22 and 24 may also interfere with adjacent pairs of keys. If there is lateral space available, it would improve functioning of the first and second keys 12 and 14 to space the axes 26 and 28 apart more than twice the width of each key face surface 32 and 38.

A conventional, collapsible, resilient dome switch 46 (FIGS. 3 and 5) is mounted on a printed circuit board 48 below each key 12 and 14. The contact surfaces 50 and 52 on the body portions 30 and 36 of the first and second keys 12 and 14 contact an adjacent conventional, collapsible, resilient dome switch 46 to activate the switches when the first or second key 12 or 14 is depressed. As shown in FIG. 5, the second key 14 is depressed and the contact surface 52 has deformed one of the collapsible dome switches 46. The resilience of the switch can return the second key 14 to its starting position when pressure is removed from the key face surface 38 on the second key 14. Movement of the switch 46 toward the axis 28 will reduce the pressure required on the key face surface 32 to activate the switch 46. Movement of the switch 46 away from the axis 28 will increase the pressure required on the key face surface 32 to activate the switch 46. However, such movement of the switch 46 may also change the vertical distance the key face surface 32 moves. Springs can be provided to lift the first and second keys 12 and 14 if needed. The dome switches 46 are illustrative only; other kinds of conventional, depressible, resilient switches can be used.

The key face surfaces 32 and 38 on the side by side pairs of keys 12 and 14 slant or converge toward each other. As shown in FIG. 3, the key face surfaces 32 and 38 form an upwardly concave pocket for a finger. This pocket locates a finger and allows the operator to depress the first key 12 or the second key 14 by rolling the finger in the pocket toward one key or the other key. The operator can also depress the first key 12 or the second key 14 by moving a finger laterally toward the key to be depressed or by pressing down on the high portion of the key. When one key is depressed, as the second key 14 is in the position shown in FIG. 5, the key face surface 38 moves toward a position parallel to the face plate 16. The inclination of key faces is such that, when two keys are depressed simultaneously, the face surfaces are substantially co-planar.

The keyboard 10 as shown in FIG. 1 includes a plurality, such as twenty, sets of side by side keys 54 arranged in rows and columns and a plurality of single keys 56. As shown in FIG. 1 the keyboard 10 has a power switch 60 and a liquid crystal display 58 mounted on the mounting plate 20 and surrounded by the face plate 16. The mounting plate 20 is secured to the upper portion of side walls 62 one of which is shown in FIG. 2. The printed circuit board 48 is secured to the lower portion of side walls 62 in a position below and parallel to the face plate 16. Suitable connectors 64 are mounted on the side walls 62 to connect the keyboard 10 to a computer, a power source, or other desired equipment.

The columns of side by side keys 54 as shown in FIG. 1 are arranged so that the first or left hand keys 12 in each column of left hand keys correspond to the keys operated by the fingers of the left hand on many typewriters and standard computer keyboards. The second or right hand keys 14 in each column of right hand keys of the side by side keys 54 correspond to the keys operated by the fingers of the right hand on many typewriters and standard computer keyboards. This arrangement of the keys is one of many that can be used and conforms to the so-called QWERTY keyboard. However, this arrangement of the keys allows operation by either the left or right hand and in either case, half the character locations are already known by most keyboard operators. If desired, the keys adapted to be operated by the right hand for a conventional keyboard can be colored or shaded, as shown in FIG. 1, differently from the keys adapted to be operated by the left hand. As shown in FIG. 1, the side by side keys 12 and 14 correspond in number to a complement of a corresponding number of keys contained in many typewriters and standard computer keyboards.

The vertical spacing between adjacent horizontal rows of side by side keys 54 is uniform. The horizontal spacing between adjacent vertical columns of left hand keys 12 is sufficient to accomodate one column of right hand keys 14 so that the columns of keys 12 alternate with the column of keys 14.

The side by side keys 12 and 14 have been shown in combination with conductive, collapsible, dome switches 46. The keys 12 and 14 could also be used in combination with mechanical switches, capacitive switches, or membrane switches. All four types of switches are commonly found in electronic keyboards for computers and computer terminals. The side by side keys 12 and 14 can easily be adapted to activate any one of the four types of switches as well as other switches.

The sets of side by side keys 54 have been described and shown in the drawing in one specific arrangement. The sets of side by side keys 54 can be placed or employed in many different arrangements without departing from the invention.

The disclosed embodiment is representative of the preferred form of the invention, but is intended to be illustrative rather than definitive thereof. The invention is defined in the claims.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3691324 *Apr 28, 1971Sep 12, 1972Brin Mfg Co IncMultiple circuit switch with pivoted contact only one switch operable at a time
US3847263 *Mar 6, 1973Nov 12, 1974Box XEnglish keyboard scheme
US3971902 *Mar 21, 1975Jul 27, 1976Amp IncorporatedKeyboard switch assembly having one piece plural pushbutton actuator and resilient mounting structure for plural cantilever beam contacts
US3983355 *Jun 19, 1974Sep 28, 1976Kabushiki Kaisha Tokai Rika Denki SeisakushoSwitching apparatus
US4265557 *Jan 22, 1979May 5, 1981Runge J MarvinKeyboard apparatus
US4311884 *May 21, 1979Jan 19, 1982C & K Components, Inc.Miniature sealed dual-in-line switch
US4440515 *Jun 1, 1982Apr 3, 1984International Business Machines CorporationKeybar keyboard
US4486637 *Jul 2, 1982Dec 4, 1984Northern Telecom LimitedPushbutton switch assembly
US4843200 *Oct 27, 1987Jun 27, 1989LegrandSwitch Mechanism having a conductive contact arm with a double pivot
US4849732 *Mar 21, 1988Jul 18, 1989Dolenc Heinz COne hand key shell
US4897649 *Dec 2, 1986Jan 30, 1990Stucki Larry RKeyboard for data entry on control purposes
US4913573 *Aug 18, 1988Apr 3, 1990Retter Dale JFor controlling data input characters of a full set
US4918264 *Dec 13, 1988Apr 17, 1990Asahi Kogaku Kogyo K.K.Actuating mechanism and multiposition rubber or membrane switch device
US5003301 *Jun 23, 1988Mar 26, 1991Romberg Harvey DKey arrangement and method of inputting information from a key arrangement
US5053591 *Feb 20, 1990Oct 1, 1991Eaton CorporationIlluminated sealed rocker switch
US5087910 *Sep 14, 1990Feb 11, 1992Guyot Sionnest LaurentElectronic keyboard for one-hand operation
US5288158 *Aug 29, 1990Feb 22, 1994Edgar MatiasOne handed-keyboard
US5367298 *Oct 25, 1991Nov 22, 1994Axthelm John KData input terminal
Non-Patent Citations
Reference
1"Keyboard for Handheld Computer," IBM Technical Disclosure Bulletin, vol. 27, No. 10A, Mar. 1985, pp. 5643-5645.
2 *IBM Corp. Bulletin vol. 27 No. 10A Mar. 1985 pp. 5640, 5641 5642.
3 *Keyboard for Handheld Computer, IBM Technical Disclosure Bulletin, vol. 27, No. 10A, Mar. 1985, pp. 5643 5645.
4 *PC Magazine, Dec. 12, 1989 pp. 240, 241.
5 *The Matias Corp, brochure 4 p. unnumbered.
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US5745056 *Mar 12, 1996Apr 28, 1998Fujitsu LimitedSingle-hand input keyboard
US5995024 *May 22, 1997Nov 30, 1999Fujitsu LimitedKeyboard and notebook type computer
US6010260 *Nov 13, 1998Jan 4, 2000Acer Peripherals Inc.Keyboard with easily accessed "Backspace" key and "Delete" key
US6142687 *Mar 16, 1999Nov 7, 2000Lisak; Stephen J.One handed sequential alpha numerical keyboard
US6190068Sep 28, 1999Feb 20, 2001Acer Peripherals Inc.Keyboard with easily accessed “backspace” key and “delete” key
US6348878 *Aug 10, 2000Feb 19, 2002Kenzo TsubaiData entry keyboard
US6869239 *Apr 15, 2003Mar 22, 2005Charles Albert MorrisCompact keyboard with sliding motion key actuation
US7048456 *Dec 28, 2000May 23, 2006Nokia Mobile Phones Ltd.Keyboard arrangement
US7083342Feb 24, 2004Aug 1, 2006Griffin Jason TKeyboard arrangement
US7131780Aug 29, 2003Nov 7, 2006Hirsch Steven BKeyboard
US7324019Jan 3, 2001Jan 29, 2008Levenson David JAdjustable ergonomic keyboard for use with stationary palm and elements thereof
US7378991Apr 4, 2006May 27, 2008International Business Machines CorporationCondensed keyboard for electronic devices
US7439959Jul 30, 2004Oct 21, 2008Research In Motion LimitedKey arrangement for a keyboard
US7761175Sep 27, 2001Jul 20, 2010Eatoni Ergonomics, Inc.Method and apparatus for discoverable input of symbols on a reduced keypad
US7819598Sep 1, 2005Oct 26, 2010Research In Motion LimitedKeyboard arrangement
US7825833Jan 9, 2007Nov 2, 2010Manthe Iii Leslie WilliamComputer keyboard
US7938589Jun 30, 2006May 10, 2011Research In Motion LimitedKeyboard arrangement
US8033744Jul 29, 2005Oct 11, 2011Paul Lloyd BakerKeyboard for a handheld computer device
US8164570Apr 8, 2008Apr 24, 2012International Business Machines CorporationCondensed keyboard for electronic devices
US8194040Jan 15, 2008Jun 5, 2012SynerdyneCompact touch-type keyboard
US8200865Sep 11, 2003Jun 12, 2012Eatoni Ergonomics, Inc.Efficient method and apparatus for text entry based on trigger sequences
US8245158 *Mar 10, 2003Aug 14, 2012Brad SchrickSystem and method for providing a keyboard type interface for a computing device
US8259074Aug 29, 2008Sep 4, 2012Research In Motion LimitedKey arrangement for a keyboard
US8414207Feb 3, 2012Apr 9, 2013Synerdyne CorporationUltra-compact mobile touch-type keyboard
US8419303Sep 16, 2010Apr 16, 2013Research In Motion LimitedKeyboard with overlaid numeric phone keypad
US8459885Mar 31, 2010Jun 11, 2013Byung Kon MinClock face keyboard
US8629362Jul 11, 2012Jan 14, 2014Synerdyne CorporationKeyswitch using magnetic force
US8686948Feb 3, 2012Apr 1, 2014Synerdyne CorporationHighly mobile keyboard in separable components
US8734036Nov 6, 2006May 27, 2014Steven B. HirschKeyboard and keys
US20140035821 *May 8, 2013Feb 6, 2014Ahmad AmiriPocket data input board
USRE43082Dec 9, 1999Jan 10, 2012Eatoni Ergonomics, Inc.Touch-typable devices based on ambiguous codes and methods to design such devices
DE102004053625A1 *Nov 4, 2004May 24, 2006Terharr, WernerKeyboard for e.g. computer, has keys assigned with characters such as a and j, s and k, d and l and f and o, and shift key shifting specified characters between function system and single hand system
DE102004053625B4 *Nov 4, 2004Jul 20, 2006Terharr, WernerKeyboard for e.g. computer, has keys assigned with characters such as a and j, s and k, d and l and f and o, and shift key shifting specified characters between function system and single hand system
WO2002015402A1 *Aug 9, 2001Feb 21, 2002Tsubai KenzoData entry keyboard
Classifications
U.S. Classification341/22, 341/20, 400/489
International ClassificationH01H13/705, G06F3/023, H01H21/22
Cooperative ClassificationG06F3/0234, H01H21/22, H01H2221/016, H01H13/705
European ClassificationH01H21/22, H01H13/705, G06F3/023M2
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Apr 22, 2008FPExpired due to failure to pay maintenance fee
Effective date: 20080305
Mar 5, 2008LAPSLapse for failure to pay maintenance fees
Sep 10, 2007REMIMaintenance fee reminder mailed
Aug 27, 2003FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 8
Jul 20, 1999FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 4